FIW – Sharp Practice in 6mm – Part 4 Spaghetti Fences and Warbases

Spaghetti Snake Rail Fences

I showed an idea I had in the last Sharp Practice post of using Spaghetti to make snake/split rail fences (here is a wiki link). Well I liked the test piece results and set about to make a few more.  These could of course be used for any future 6mm, never say never again, ACW (American Civil War) project. With this “risk” in mind I did a little bit more than I needed.  I recently re-read Peter Riley’s Crisis of Allegiance ACW rules and got tempted but have to keep the project portfolio in control.  I am currently listening to “The Civil War” edited by Don Congdon on Audible whilst doing my projects – It is a very good listen indeed.

These kind of rail fences were particularly useful in rocky ground as they do not require holes to be dug for posts.  They were relatively quick to build and could be taken down and put up where they were needed.  It adds that nice periodic and geographical flavour to the setting. Note these are a somewhat simplified in design, but I think they work well for my needs.  In trying to learn the Sharp Practice rules we set up a little encounter where some French friendly natives are attacking two groups of militia firing behind some fences.

indian-attack-2indians-attack

I used 10mm by 1mm wooden strips as bases and then put a magnetic strip under (poundland variety) .  I then glued a template on top of each and cut the spaghetti into the required length. It becomes stronger than you think. I used PVA/Wood Glue and the only advice is to use moderate amount of glue to avoid getting the spaghetti too wet. But as a construction material it is brilliant and dead cheap compared to plastistruct or metallic rods. Get the thinnest spaghetti you can find – Angel hair or Cappelini seems to work best (he said sounding like a true veteran – go crazy explore the cupboard). Cocktail sticks feels a little to big in 6mm. On reflection I should probably have gone with 2mm thick bases as it makes in easier to pick them up.

rail-fencing
This is the template I used. The long parts should be 100mm/10cm long and the short ones 5cm. At these lengths they are 8mm wide so fits well on top of the 10mm wooden strip.  I guess you could paste the picture into PowerPoint and adjust it to fit whatever you need.  It is a little bit fiddly to do them but I think it was worth it.

Warbases

I also ordered some bespoke designs from Warbases to use as movement trays for the unit –  I think they worked really well. This will make movement a little bit easier.  I have to say that Diane and Martin at Warbases are excellent to deal with and I recommend them for your normal and special basing needs. I have not yet painted the small “leader bases” I am using to distinguish the Leaders.

Next I am waiting for some reinforcements and stuff to finalise what I need. I am also tempted to make a little fort. A wooden palisade type with some vaubanesque feel to the corner sections optimised for the scale and basing I have for the miniatures.  I have just the material for the stockade! – but will probably go for some wood supporting the spaghetti!

fort-2

That is all for this time.

/ All the very best

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Towards Moscow Trilogy (TMT) Part 1 – Overview

This rather long post officially closes the Lesnaya series that will be merged into the TMT series.  I, Nick Dorrell and the very decent chums of the Wyre forest wargames club will be doing three battles (2 that took place and one that could have been) from the Great Northern War covering the, from a Swedish perspective, ill-fated Russian campaign 1708 to 1709.  I will provide a brief overview here and on how many bases and figures we need for the project – there will be more historical background as we get into these projects in more detail. There is a lot to do. The Battles will be presented at the Joy of Six Shows 2017, 2018 and 2019.

I plan to do an update every 4 weeks on this particular project. I do try to update this blog on a weekly basis with other stuff I am working on or something else that takes my fancy. If you are interested in following this blog you could register your e-mail here or like the Roll a One group on Facebook or, if you prefer, come back from time to time.

Basing and Rules

As I already have thousands of 6mm GNW miniatures from previous projects I will base these new miniatures in the same way. This is in line with the GNW Polemos basing standard for 6mm figures and is done on bases measuring 60mm by 30mm. However these bases have been used to play with other good rules including Maurice (using two bases per unit which makes the column formation look funny but works), Might and Reason (the standard is two bases 50mm by 25mm per unit) and Twilight of the Sun King  without any problems. There are of course other rules that can be used for the period and invariably rules, I have found, can be adapted to whatever basing you have.  None of these rules are 6mm specific – so other scales works equally well. There are few things to consider when wargaming the early 18th century period in general and the Great Northern War in particular.

For Maurice there are some additional rules about more immobile artillery and pikes that needs to be included in a GNW setting and if you are using Might and Reason make sure you download the excellent (and free) module Sun King – A Module for Might and Reason 1689 to 1721 by Greg Savvinos.   This module contains special rules for the Swedes as shock troops (see notes below). I think the following from the module is a spot on summary of the Swedish Army and the King from a period of history that produced some amazing military victories for the Swedish army but also its greatest defeat.

“The Swedish army of the GNW was a formidable combination of regular and militia that had been forged together to form a devastating battle field force that was able to sweep its enemies from many a battlefield. One of the great strengths of the Swedish army was the capable team of leaders it fielded, headed by the soldier king Charles XII. Unfortunately whilst Charles was a brilliant battlefield commander, he was less than mediocre as a strategist or diplomat and ultimately led his country to disaster at Poltava. The Swedish Army never recovered from that catastrophe and the rest of the war marked a steady decline in its quality. Yet Charles was willing to keep fighting to the last Swede, and very nearly did so by the time he was felled by a bullet fired from the Swedish lines whilst besieging a Norwegian fortress in 1718”.

From the Might and Reason supplement “Sun King – A module for might and Reason 1689 to 1721” by Greg Savvinos

Whilst the Great Northern war was the twilight of the Swedish Great Empire it was the dawn of the Tsarist Russian empire.  I have to admit a bias in being Swedish but that does not blind me from the skillful and cautious build up and modernisation of the Russian army following the defeat at Narva in 1700.   On top of the organisational changes the army had gained valuable experience from the smaller campaigns in the Baltic States and Finland. The skillful strategy adopted by the Russians during the Russian Campaign itself by using scorched earth tactics (as was later used against Napoleon and Adolf Hitler) and the successful ambush on the reinforcement supply column are amongst some of the reasons that the Battle at Poltava ended in a total disaster for the Swedes.  Peter, who truly was Great, more or less on his own moved Russia from being a medieval and isolated culture to become a major european power with a strong army and navy.  The Russian army fighting the Swedish army during the Russian campaign is a better trained and more experienced force.

I find this essay on Peter the Great being a good summary of his achievements. I further recommend the brilliant book by Robert K. Massie on Peter the Great if you are interested in this period of history.

Sam Mustafa, who wrote Maurice (and Might and Reason), provided the following guidelines on his Honours forum for the national advantages to be used in Maurice for early 18th century battles (for both WSS and GNW –  I have just included the ones relevant to the GNW):

  1. Swedish:  a la Baionette, Steady Lads, Cavaliers, Clerics, Maison du Roi, Great Captain if Charles XII is in command
  2. Danish: Lethal Volleys
  3. Prussian: Steady Lads, Lethal Volleys.
  4. Saxon/ Polish:  Feudal if the army includes Poles.
  5. Russian 1695-1702: Feudal, At least half the regular units must be conscript.
    Russian 1703-1707: Maison du Roi, Feudal
    Russian  1708-1724: Steady Lads, Maison du Roi
  6. Ottomans: Feudal, Skirmisher, En Masse. No more than four regular Cavalry. At least 3 regular infantry must be conscript.

I think this is a good interpretation and the clerics represent the strong religious indoctrination of the Swedish army.  Priests and religion were central to the Swedish Army’s development of the discipline needed to successfully implement the offensive tactics.

“Morale and discipline unites them
A common faith to keep them strong
Always on their way to heaven
In the name of Christ their enemies chastise”

From the Song “The Carolean’s Prayer” by Sabaton

You can find a link to the GNW Polemos rules here written by Nick Dorrell. Nick, amongst other things, is also working on a new version/adapatation of the Twilight of the Sun King rules for this period but these are not yet in print.

Whatever rules you are using for this period and the specific theater of war in the east in summary you need to consider some issues special to this theatre:

  1. The use of pikes – The normal pike to musket ratio in the Swedish army was about 1 to 3 and for the Russian about 1 to 6 for the period leading up to and including the Russian campaign.
  2. Swedish shock tactics – The use of shock tactics by the Swedish Army, both by the infantry (with pikes and swords) and cavalry (with naked steel and wedge formation charges). These attacks focusing on speed and aggression took advantage of the, still, relatively low firing rates and expected the enemy to waver and flee, which indeed happened on may occasions. I and the little one was once charged by a band of reenacting English Civil War pike men and it was indeed a scary experience.
  3. Swedish Determination – The effectiveness of the Swedish army who seemed to win time and time again although numerically inferior to its enemies. This is elegantly solved in the Polemos rules by using a temporary determined status, giving benefit in combat, for some Swedish units where the “..opponents can work to take the ‘edge’ off the Swedish by seeking to remove this status. Also it was a useful device to show the difference between the main Swedish army and the troops available elsewhere. Often the troops in the minor armies and theatres did not have this ‘edge’”. 
  4. Troop types – including more varied cavalry units  including old style Panzerni, Polish hussars as well as light horse units.

Below is a slideshow of some GNW miniatures from my collection (They are all from Baccus) as a thank you for reading this far. There are Saxons, Russians, Polish and Swedes.

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Towards Moscow background and the Battles we will do

The campaign is the invasion of Russia by Charles XII of Sweden starting with the crossing of the frozen Vistula river in early 1708 and ends with the Swedish defeat in the Battle of Poltava in the Summer of 1709.  It is the beginning of the end for Sweden as a dominant military power in north-eastern Europe.

The Great Northern War in started in 1700 when a coalition formed by the Peter the Great of Russia, Frederick IV of Denmak-Norway and Augustus II the Strong of Saxony-Poland attacked Sweden. The coalition were formed following the death of the Swedish King Charles XI and the belief was that the new and very young King (Charles the XII was 15 when his father died) would not be able to put up an organised fight.  Following Swedish successful expansion during the 17th century a lot of these neighbours wanted lost territories back, limit Swedish economic dominance and gain access to the Baltic Sea.

However the King turned out to be a skilled warrior and leader of men and the preparedness, quality and efficiency of battle methods of the Swedish army built up by his father was second to none during this era. The King quickly pacified Denmark and a Peace Treaty was sign in Travendal 1700. The Russians were defeated at the Battle of Narva in 1700 but then the King turned his attention to Saxony-Poland and Augustus.  It took the King 6 years to defeat the Saxon-Polish and force the abdication of Augustus the Strong from the Polish crown (1706 Treaty of Altranstädt). 

The time had come to sort out the Russians.

For a summary of the Great Northern war there are a few good places to start: Learning Site, Wikpedia and the The eminent Tacitus Website.

I have used Nick Dorrell’s book Dawn of the Tsarist Empire that you can buy from Caliver books to derive the units present for the Battles and the bases needed (remember a base of infantry represents 400 to 600 men, about a battalion, and for cavalry 2 squadrons of about 200 to 250 men).  It is probably the best book available about the full Russian campaign written with the “wargamer in mind”.  I would also recommend Peter Englund’s fantastic  The Battle that Shock Europe about the Poltava Battle – this is probably the best book I have ever read with regards to battles and warfare.

For painting guidance and colours/standards I have copies of the excellent books Great Northern War 1700-1721: Colours and Uniforms Part 1 and Part 2, by Lars-Eric Höglund and Åke Sallnäs.  Not sure where these can be found nowadays more than the second hand market – for me these books are priced possessions. However a lot of information is readily available on the Tacitus Website (see above – with uniform detail for many battles) and is a good start. There is also a few relevant Osprey Books – Peter the Great’s Army Part 1 and Part 2 as well as a campaign book on Poltava  (I will go through some other sources and provide some overviews in future installations of some of the other, including Swedish, sources I have and will be using).

Lesnaya 1708

[116 bases, excluding commanders – a total of 1,424 miniatures]

[Wikipedia link here]

battle_of_lesnaya_1708_by_larmessin
The Battle of Lesnaya (1708) by Nicolas Lamessin (1722-24)

This is an interesting Battle and in effect is an ambush by a Russian flying detachment of a smaller Swedish army led by General Lewenhaupt escorting a supply column of more than 4,500 wagons for heading for the main Army in Ukraine.  From the perspective of doing the battle we need a lot of forest as well as about 40 or more bases to represent the supply column (wagons, carts, marching soldiers, etc). Please find the figure count for the Battle.

Russian Army (72 bases, excluding command bases)

Infantry – 10 bases with 24 miniatures per base (240 miniatures)

Dragoons – 60 bases with 9 miniature per base (540 miniatures)

Artillery – 2 light gun bases (2 cannon with 6 crew)

Swedish Army (44 bases and 50+ bases to represent the convoy, excluding command bases)

Infantry –  17 bases with 24 miniatures per base (406 miniatures)

Dragoons/Horse – 22 bases with 9 miniature per base (211 miniatures)

Vallacker Light Cavalry – 1 base with 7 miniatures per base (7 miniatures)

Artillery – 2 light gun bases and 2 field gun bases (4 cannon with 14 crew)

Train/Convoy – a large number of bases, say 50+

Horka 1708

[245 bases, excluding commanders – a total of 3,296 miniatures]

We were going to do the Battle of Holowczyn but instead decided to do a “what-if” battle at Horka 1708.  When Charles XII was waiting for Lewenhaupt and the supply column to arrive at Mogilev (Belarus) the Russians had occupied a strong position nearby at Horka (sometimes called Gorki). As noted in Nick’s book this could have been the site of the decisive battle of the campaign.  In reality the King decided not to attack – in our scenario he decided to “Gå-På” for it.

We went for this idea for the following reasons:

  • Although the position was beneficial for the Russians we felt that the balance between the forces was such that it would make an interesting battle with similar strength on both sides than the more one sided battle at Poltava battle at year later.
  • The Holowczyn battle was fought on a wide frontage, whilst this idea offers a more solid a classical (for the time) set up with a long line of soldiers getting on with it.

Currently we will run this what-if with the following forces (but since we have some artistic freedom it could change, e.g. we have no information of Russian cavalry at the Horka):

Russian Army (137 bases, excluding command bases)

Infantry – 54 bases with 24 miniatures per base (1,296 miniatures)

Dragoons – 59 bases with 9 miniature per base (531 miniatures)

Kalmyk/Cossack Light Cavalry – 16 bases with 7 miniatures per base (112 miniatures)

Artillery – 4 light gun bases and 4 field gun bases (8 cannon with 26 crew)

Swedish Army (108 bases, excluding command bases)

Infantry –  28 bases with 24 miniatures per base (672 miniatures)

Dragoons/Horse -66 bases with 9 miniature per base (594 miniatures)

Vallacker Light Cavalry – 6 bases with 7 miniatures per base (42 miniatures)

Artillery – Artillery – 4 light gun bases and 4 field gun bases (8 cannon with 26 crew)

Poltava 1709

martens_poltava
Battle of Poltava 1709 by Denis Martens the Younger (1726)

[354 bases, excluding commanders and a total of 4,758 miniatures]

[Wikipedia link here]

The final installation will be the disastrous Poltava in 1709 that from a war game perspective will be a spectacle with a big table and many troops – however most of them are Russians (or fighting on their side) and it will be impossible for the Swedes to win. 42,000 men on the Russian side and 17,000 on the Swedish side. However if we can not go for playability we will go for spectacle and ensure the table is large and that units not directly involved are also included on the table. In addition the Russians had 86 cannons vs the 4 the Swedes brought to the battlefield.  So if we are struggling with playability we will put on a spectacle and make the table bigger and include units in the area including the Siege at Poltava itself. This gives us the following miniature figure count for the Poltava battle, subject to review before the day of battle (July 2019).

Russian Army (266 bases, excluding command bases)

Infantry – 89 bases with 24 miniatures per base (2,136 miniatures)

Dragoons – 132 bases with 9 miniature per base (1,188 miniatures)

Kalmyk/Cossack Light Cavalry – 30 bases with 7 miniatures per base (210 miniatures)

Artillery – 11 light gun bases and 4 field gun bases (15 cannon with 47 crew)

Swedish Army (91 bases, excluding command bases)

Infantry –  18 bases with 24 miniatures per base (432 miniatures)

Dragoons/Horse – 41 bases with 9 miniature per base (369 miniatures)

Vallacker Light Cavalry – 4 bases with 7 miniatures per base (28 miniatures)

Cossack Light Cavalry – 20 bases with 7 miniatures per base (140 miniatures)

Artillery – 4 light gun bases and 4 field gun bases (8 cannon with 28 crew)

That is all for this time, I hope to show some progress on the Sharp Practice project next week.

/ All the very best

 

 

FIW – Sharp Practice in 6mm – Part 3

My mother was taken ill this week so I found myself spending the latter part of my week in Sweden. Luckily all went as well as possible given the circumstances and there are certainly worse places than Sweden to be in during September. I try to go and visit Rommehed when I am in my hometown. Rommehed was once the training ground of the Dal regiment that existed between 1621 to 2000.  During the Great Northern War the regiment was involved in many of the famous battles, including the victories at Narva (1700), Düna (1701), Klissow (1702), Holowczyn (1708), Malatitze (1708) and Gadebusch (1712).  In our Towards Moscow Trilogy (TMT) the Dal regiment will be present at our Gorki/Horki “what if battle” as well as the disastrous battle at Poltava (1709). Today the site is one of two sites of the dal regiments museum and is occasionally open during the Summer Months (not when I visited this time) and there is also a very brave stone soldier guarding the premises.

Therefore no major progress on any of my diversions and this is therefore a short update.

Spaghetti Fences

In a recent Meeples and Miniatures podcast the hosts discussed the mileage in doing Snake rail fencing in spaghetti. I used spaghetti for the bridges I did for my Saga in 6mm project.  Armed with a little bit of very thin spaghetti – capellini (no. 2) and some superglue – I made a small section.  I will show the build process in some more detail when I do the “real” fences later. I am very pleased with the result.

Support List Options

In addition I managed to get most of the markers and support options for Sharp Practice “modelled” by pimping some Baccus and Perfect Six carts (water, ammunition and engineering) and Perfect Six barricades. I also made some markers for artillery ammunition and out of ammo markers  (illogically represented by an ammunition crate) 0 these, again, are from Perfect Six. I have included some pictures in the slide show below. I hope to be able to show them painted in a not too distant future.

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/ All the best and be careful out there

FIW – Sharp Practice in 6mm – Part 2

Due to the marriage of some very good friends, this week has very much been devoted to getting the clan ready for the occasion.  For most of the family the question is, “do I look good in this?” to which I answer “Absolutely fantastic!” for me it is “Can I fit in this?” and if the answer is yes then I am good to go!  I can report that we had a fantastic time indeed even though we were by no means in the centre of any attention. Being in the vicinity of Twickenham I wanted to go to the Twickenham Museum and the “Footballer of Loos exhibition”.

Footballer of Loos

From the museums webpage: The first Big Push of World War One took place on 25thSeptember outside the small mining town of Loos in northern France. It was kicked off with a football by rifleman Frank Edwards. After the war Frank came to live in Twickenham and died in Whitton in 1964. During his lifetime he was known as The Footballer of Loos. The story of Frank’s exploit is told by way of an action tableau accompanied by artefacts and information about the Battle of Loos and is set against a striking backdrop painted by local children.  Our community audio drama The Greater Game about Football on the Front in First World War …. To listen or download go to The Greater Game.

The actual football that was kicked about by the London British Rifles appeared on the Antiques Roadshow a few years back. Here is a short article about the programme.

medNevill_charge.jpg

Anyway, I was prepare and ready for it, but we ran out of time so perhaps another time.

French Indian War further thoughts

Inspired by the skirmish based 6mm miniatures I did last week I ordered some more miniatures from Baccus for my FIW project (again from the SYW and AWI ranges):

  • SFR09 – French Artillery. I need this to make an artillery piece for each side but also to use some of the artillery crews to make some of the supporting miniatures options, like the physic and the holy man.
  • SYG – Generals; to have the option of fielding a senior officer on horse and perhaps some characters for scenarios.
  • AWI01 – Indians – Bare Chested, to get some more variety of
  • AWL02Loyalist Infantry – Skirmish; these may be a better option to use for Rangers?AWB05 – Highlanders – Formed;  just because I would like to have a unit of formed highlanders and the officer in the command strip just looks brilliant, and
  • AWB10 – British Light Infantry- Round hat, Campaign, Skirmish. To give some line infantry options, and.
  • ECW23 – Scots Dismounted Dragoons, from the English Civil War range!. I may get away with these as firing Rangers. But let me verify this after I get them from Baccus.
awb5.jpg
AWB05 – Highlanders Formed from Baccus (from their catalogue)

I also ordered some buildings from Leven miniatures that I thought could be useful for doing farmsteads, small fort and village, including ACW03 – Blacksmith’s Forge, ACW06 – Blockhouse, ACW26 – Shiloh Church, ACW25 – Brotherton Cabin, ACW07 – Timber Shack, WES04 – Livery Stable and WES18 – Outbuildings.  I mainly used Leven miniatures for my Saga project and I really like their products.  I have included pictures from these items from Leven’s catalogue, you can find Leven’s webpage here. I sense some spaghetti is being required again for fencing and palisades.

I also need to dig out some horses/mules and carts I have lying around to make the other support options, including water cart, ammunition cart, mule train and the engineering groups with cart. I also need to build some barricades and breastworks I have ordered a few items that would be useful for this purpose from perfect six (including their Black powder civilians including Barricade 20mm, cannonball stacks, 2no carts complete with famers cart horses and a dog and  wooden Barrels).

I like minimal battlefield clutter and for the recent Saga game I used casualty markers to represent fatigue that blended in on the battle board (See an earlier post here). I did not make these as casualty dials but as individual markers due to the fatigue markers being actively used as part of the game itself – as the fatigue markers can be spent by the opponent.  I believe I would need the following markers for Sharp Practice – with my current thoughts:

  • Present markers – I think I will use markers similar in shape to the overwatch markers used for Chain of Command or a marker with an arrow. These will be based and with some static grass on top to blend in.
  • Uncontrolled markers – again I will make a shape to represent this, perhaps a simplified “chaos” symbol with arrows in four directions.
  • Shock markers – I will try to make some casualty markers with a dial inspired by this 10mm Napoleonic’s blog.  My concept sketch for this is included below – I just need to ask Peter Berry if he can do some Parrots in 6mm. This parrot is lead! Of course you could get away without using parrots and although Baccus does not do SYW or AWI casualty packs they do them for WSS (with Tricornes) and ACW (with hats and kepis that can be made to look the part I believe).
parrot markers
How to make a shocked parrot marker

 

  • Ammo markers for artillery – I though I make small bases with cannon ball stacks (I have ordered these from Perfectsix) and place 3 (or more if the option have been bought) next to the artillery and take one away each time it fires.
  • Out of ammo markers – this is in the instances that a unit runs out of ammo as this is the exception and not the norm. Not sure what I will do for these. But I will figure something out. Perhaps you could give me an idea (as the norm is that there is ammo for the unit the marker is only useful for the “out of” situation).

I better get on with it, so we can have game and see how it goes…

Next time, if things goes to plan, I will be picking up on the Towards Moscow Trilogy (TMT) project again as I have been in some discussion with Nick Dorrell on how we do this and we also have some other plans.

However things may be temporary suppressed by a promise to the little one. I had words from Wayland games that the delayed Halo Ground Command pre-order was shipped, so I may need to clean my brushes and get on with that. He has been waiting for this since he play tested it with Spartan Derek at Salute this year.

/ All the very best